The major consolidation of federal agencies that is creating the new Department of Homeland Security also is impelling private industry to adapt to the changing landscape. The resulting environment places more responsibility on businesses to protect vital infrastructure, but it also clears the way to a closer and more productive relationship between the commercial and public sectors.
More than 16 months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. government spending on homeland security has yet to settle into a predictable routine. Tens of billions of dollars have been allocated to domestic and foreign operations aimed at deterring, preventing or recovering from terrorist activities. Some of these appropriations have funded startup programs that promise long-term benefits, while others support long-extant efforts that are the only options available for immediate action in the war on terrorism.
Corporate America is helping assemble the homeland defense jigsaw puzzle that includes thousands of pieces being put together by hundreds of people looking at a multitude of different pictures. Industry leaders agree that the biggest challenge is the complexity of the problem and the plethora of solutions being proposed by companies with a range of specialties taking widely varying approaches.
Military doctrines about fighting in cities and towns are evolving, and the U.S. Army is turning to high technology systems to teach and evaluate how warfighters will adapt to the new objectives in an emerging battlespace. The service is examining tactics, techniques and procedures and developing concepts that support maneuvers that can transition from offense and defense to stabilization and support.
Having established new procedures and incorporated new technologies for surface and air situational awareness, the U.S. Navy now is looking to extend that capability underwater. The sea service is working with the private sector to apply new data fusion techniques to antisubmarine warfare.
Interoperability between service, state and federal agencies and coalition forces is vital to securing the Asia-Pacific region. Equally important is the implementation of information assurance measures to get information to the right place at the right time. And, a streamlined acquisition process is needed that delivers joint systems that adhere to standards and policy.
My first year as your AFCEA International president was a "super-deluxe" experience. Although I tend to spend only a small part of my time reflecting on the past, I now look back on this past year with the same positive feeling that I have when I look ahead to the future. My heartfelt thanks go to all of you who have taken the time to support AFCEA by providing me with the necessary education to lead our association. I hope to build on that education as I work with the Board of Directors, the regional vice presidents and the chapters to improve the service that we provide as AFCEANs.
When the first commercial imaging satellite rocketed into outer space, few realized that a quiet revolution leading to total transparency had begun. Like the introduction of television, the advent of commercial satellite imagery has facilitated the dissemination of information to the world in graphic detail. But experts warn that this new capability could be a double-edged sword. Commercial satellite imagery is unveiling previously secretive activities to the court of public opinion where it can be scrutinized in a way never before possible.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing miniaturized infrared detectors and sensors that do not require bulky cooling systems. These devices will be compact enough to fit in small robotic vehicles and microaircraft or will be manportable. The technology also may improve night vision and missile seeking equipment. Recent advances in physics and materials science are moving these devices from the laboratory to the battlefield.
The U.S. military may one day obtain detailed reconnaissance imagery with laser light that has never touched a target. By using two laser beams and taking advantage of a unique characteristic of quantum mechanics that permits one beam to mirror the state of its twin, researchers are developing low-power systems that can measure, or illuminate, objects across a variety of frequencies, yet generate detailed pictures in the visible spectrum.